5 Steps to Transporting Your Car During a Move
You are moving cross-country, and all of your household belongings are loaded up in a moving van. So, how exactly are you going to transport your car to your new home at the same time? Towing your vehicle can be a great option that allows you and your family to ride in the moving van together. It can also combat driver fatigue because you can share the responsibility of driving a single vehicle, which may also help you save gas.
Here is some helpful advice for choosing the right towing equipment, some tips for loading and unloading, plus special precautions to take while transporting your car.
Step 1: Determine which type of trailer you need.
There are two types of trailers commonly used to tow a vehicle: a tow dolly or car carrier. A tow dolly lifts your car’s front wheels off the road (a low-cost option for front-wheel drive vehicles), while a car carrier lifts your car completely off the ground so that none of the tires make contact with the pavement (good for long-distance moves).
The weight, size of the hitch and other specifications of both the tow vehicle and the car to be towed are important in determining which trailer you will need. Consult the trailer manufacturer for specific guidelines to decide which will work best for you. Some companies, like U-Haul, provide a hookup validation process that will qualify your vehicle quickly and easily.
Remember, rental towing equipment is designed to carry most regular-production vehicles, so if you have after-market alterations (e.g. over-sized tires) or custom effects (e.g. lowered ground clearance), then you may need to take some extra steps before the towing equipment can accommodate your special vehicle.
Step 2: Familiarize yourself with the equipment.
It’s never a good idea to throw your car on a trailer and learn as you go. Take time to learn the proper way to use your equipment and become familiar with the components. Read all of the decals, the owner’s manual and pamphlets, when available. You may also find instructional videos on the trailer manufacturer’s website, or on YouTube.
Position the moving van, the trailer, and the vehicle to be towed in a straight line on level ground. Make sure the towing equipment is securely connected to your moving van before driving the to-be-towed car up the ramps. (Don’t load your vehicle until the trailer is hooked up). Follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions when loading your vehicle. Some basic and general tips for loading are as follows:
- Double-check your connection to the moving van before loading the trailer.
- Load forward. The heaviest part of the car (where the engine is) should always be loaded closest to the towing vehicle, whether you are using a car carrier or tow dolly.
- Use adequate tie-downs, safety chains and tire straps to secure your vehicle.
- Be careful getting out of your car after you load it onto the trailer. The trailer fenders may make it impossible to open your door wide enough to get out. You may need to climb out of the window, or consider renting a trailer with fold-down fenders if this is not an option.
- When towing a rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle on a tow dolly, drop the drive shaft before towing. Putting the vehicle into neutral is not enough in many cases. Consult a trusted mechanic for questions or assistance. An easier solution for these vehicles may be a car carrier.
- Never load cargo into the vehicle being towed. The weight capacities of trailers are based on empty vehicle weights; yours may not be equipped for the extra weight of your cargo. Cargo in a towed vehicle will also shift the normal weight distribution, which can cause dangerous “sway.”
- Don’t put pets or people into the vehicle being towed.
Step 4: Drive carefully when towing.
Driving a vehicle combination is different from driving a vehicle alone. You should always take the following precautions when towing a trailer:
Before you go:
- Make sure your lights are operational. When using a tow dolly, you will need to attach separate vehicle-in-tow lights. Inspect all trailer connections once more before hitting the road.
- Check tire pressure on your car and the tow vehicle before you set out.
On the Road:
- Anticipate stops, and brake early. The heavier weight of the combination creates a need for longer stopping distances. In clear weather, allow a four-second gap between you and the vehicle in front of you. Allow at least five seconds when towing in adverse weather conditions.
- Reduce your regular driving speed, and slow down even more for downgrades, curves, hazardous road conditions and expressway exits.
- Take wider turns.
- Always be alert and follow common sense driving behaviors. Fasten your seat belt, do not talk on your cellphone, and never operate a vehicle when you are tired.
At every stop:
- Park with a pull-through, where the parking spot in front is clear; backing up can be difficult and could result in damage to towing equipment.
- Inspect all trailer connections before driving, including the hitch.
Step 5: Unload the vehicle.
Before you unload your car from the trailer, make sure that the trailer is still securely attached to the vehicle. Position the vehicle so that the trailer is directly behind it in a straight line, and is on safe, level ground. Fully extend the loading ramps and then ensure the area around the trailer is clear before removing your vehicle. While it is not necessary, it is helpful to have a spotter available to guide you off of the trailer.
This post comes from the editors at Movinginsider.com; your resource for everything related to moving, storage and organization.
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